Talking therapy scheme is launched

A major health initiative was launched in the region last week to provide 'talking therapy' for people with common psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.

Many people with such problems are on medication that may be unnecessary if they had access to a trained professional. Others may receive no help at all or have to wait for help.

Newcastle University and Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Trust have teamed up to launch the Government-funded Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) initiative, which will provide more trained psychological therapists to talk with patients about their problems and help many of them toward recovery.

Initially the programme is creating 40 posts, based mainly at GP surgeries and clinics in North and South Tyneside. The University will expand its existing training courses and, together with NHS North East (the Strategic Health Authority), has already recruited its first cohort of additional students.

Professor Mark Freeston, a clinical psychologist at Newcastle University, who is involved in the North East initiative, said: “Many people with common psychological illnesses are unknown to the NHS and struggle on at home, coping as best they can. Many others have been put on long-term medication to help them cope.

“We now know that talking therapy can be highly effective. As this becomes widely available, more people will be able to get the help they need and many of those that are on medication may not need it any more.”

Over the next few years, other training providers and health care organisations are expected to become involved in the national scheme, providing access to therapists for people living in other parts of the region.

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